Waiting for the wave 2 – film festivals between shutdown and hope

Diagram 2: Distribution of the number of announced festival dates over the year 2020 (as per 1.5.20, data basis: own festival calendar).
Increased columns=new dates (the color refers to the originally planned month), gray= moved to autumn without a fixed date (as a forecast evenly distributed over 3 months)


A month has passed since I first reported on the reactions of film festivals to the official closures – time to take a look at the current situation.

In the meantime other festivals worldwide had to be cancelled. Many have probably been too optimistic about the development or have been waiting until the last moment to make a decision. To date, there is still not a single festival in the world that can be sure of being allowed to take place. In no country, apart from outsiders such as Belarus or Egypt, have the governments set dates for lifting restrictions on gatherings.

In Germany, the only certainty is that no major event may be held before 31 August. The only thing that remains undefined is how many people are required for an event to be ‘large’. Public statements suggest that after shops and educational institutions (including museums), theatres, concert halls and cinemas will only be allowed to open in a third and final phase of relaxation.




Monthly comparison


The figures below show the announced festival dates in monthly steps. Diagram 1 shows festivals as they were planned a month ago. In diagram 2 I entered the current distribution of the announced dates as of May 1. Here, for a better view, the two diagrams below each other:

Diagram 1: Distribution of announced festivals (as of 31.3.20, data basis: own festival calendar) / Note: the number of festivals as of October corresponds to the previous year (in diagram 2, however, to the festivals announced in the meantime in 2020)

Diagram 2: Distribution of the number of announced festival dates over the year 2020 (as per 1.5.20, data basis: own festival calendar). Raised columns=new dates (the colour refers to the originally planned month), grey= moved without a fixed date to autum (as a forecast evenly distributed over 3 months)

In comparison, it is easy to see how the peak (the month with the most festivals) has shifted and how the number of planned festivals has risen sharply since August. The postponed festivals without a fixed new date – and that are quite many – are distributed not evenly over four months, unlike last month, but over only three months (Sept. – Nov.). Irrespective of this unpredictability, it is clear that October 2020 will be the month in which most of the festivals will be held this year.

The summer dates, which have not yet significantly decreased, are mainly festivals in Italy, typically held during the holiday season and often supported by local tourism organisations. I won’t comment on how realistic that is…

The bars entered in the chart for April and May are not to be taken seriously. These refer either to organizers who have not updated their websites for weeks, and only a few festivals in the Middle East that have actually taken place or may still take place.

As suspected in the last report, the major festivals tend to cancel completely or to postpone their dates to a much later date. They don’t want to risk having to cancel again – which is what actually happened to smaller festivals that have just been added in July.




Online festival offers


Many festivals do not want to or cannot postpone their date and instead offer streaming on or around their event date. To get an overview, I have marked these activities in the following diagram and put them in relation to the actually planned festivals.

Diagram 3 Proportion of online activities by festivals = blue frames

It is astonishing how quickly and strongly online offers were set up at the beginning of the festival shutdown. It is also remarkable that after April, the proportion of festivals planning exclusively online activities is already declining again. In this respect the peak has been exceeded. But whether all the festivals can actually take place again after June, as planned by the organizers, is unfortunately more than questionable.


Part 1 from April 2, 2020: Waiting for the wave – Film festivals between shutdown and hope



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